James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Video: Malkin tags Murray in the face with stick during scrum


Well, that was a terrible first period for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It’s not just that they’re currently down 3-0 against their rival the Washington Capitals on NBCSN.

It’s how they fell behind 3-0 that stings. In the case of Matt Murray, that’s meant literally; watch him taking Evgeni Malkin‘s errant stick to his face – which was not protected by his mask – during a scrum that was just a mess.

At that point, it was 2-0 for Washington late in the opening frame thanks in part to a Nicklas Backstrom goal that probably hurts Murray almost as much as that Malkin high-stick.

In another example of a goalie allowing a goal moments after “going in cold,” Marc-Andre Fleury saw his team go down 3-0 thanks to this tally:


It’s too early to tell if Murray is actually hurt or not. The way things have been going for prominent players lately, you can’t blame the Penguins if they’re nervous.

Murray did not return to the ice to start the second period, but the score could conceivably play a role in that decision. We’ll see if there are additional updates.

Minor trade: Logan Shaw to Ducks, Panthers get Michael Sgarbossa

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The Anaheim Ducks received Logan Shaw while the Florida Panthers acquired Michael Sgarbossa in a small trade on Wednesday.

Sgarbossa is a 24-year-old player who did not go drafted and currently has 19 games of NHL experience. He put up solid numbers in the AHL last season (44 points in 62 games).

Shaw, also 24, was the 76th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. He’s played in more NHL games (53, all in 2015-16) but his AHL stats haven’t been quite as impressive.

Seems like a fairly even trade of two players likely to bounce between the AHL and NHL levels. Then again, with the way the Panthers have identified bargains in the likes of Jonathan Marchessault and Colton Sceviour, you never know if we’ll look back at this differently …

WATCH LIVE: Penguins – Capitals on Wednesday Night Rivalry

You can’t ask for much more than Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals on Wednesday Night Rivalry.

Of course, there’s always Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin, but as you know, these teams present plenty of other high-end players. Each squad is well-coached and should be considered legit contenders in the East, only spicing up an already robust rivalry.

With injuries hitting big stars around the NHL lately, we should savor these nights where some of the big names are ready to go.

You can watch this game on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.

Video: A decade of Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin


Both players have experienced ups and downs – whether from injuries or disappointments – but overall, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin deliver over and over again.

With Connor McDavid and other young guns infiltrating the rankings, it’s remarkable that the faces of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are still going strong.

Wednesday presents another chapter in their rivalry, which is – prepare to feel old – now at the decade mark.

The video above celebrates what this rivalry’s meant, what it continues to mean and what we might see next.

Does anyone else get a “Friday Night Lights” feel at times while watching it, by the way?

Hellebuyck shuts down Blackhawks, Laine scores yet again


WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season, rookie Patrik Laine scored his NHL-leading 12th goal and the Winnipeg Jets beat the division-leading Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Rookie defenseman Josh Morrissey scored his first career goal, while forwards Chris Thorburn and Nic Petan got their first scores of the season for the second-place Jets.

Nikolaj Ehlers had two assists, helping Winnipeg stretch its points streak to five games.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford was replaced by Scott Darling after letting in four goals on 22 shots. Darling made two saves.

It was the first of five games between the Central Division foes this season.

The Blackhawks had points in each of their previous 11 games. It was their first game in a season-high seven-game road trip.

Morrissey beat Crawford at 6:26 of the first period when his one-timer from the high slot went through the goalie’s legs.

It was only the 11th even-strength goal Crawford had allowed this season.

Morrissey finished the period in the penalty box after he was called for charging against Hawks wing Vinnie Hinostroza with 26 seconds left, but Chicago couldn’t take advantage of the extra man.

The Hawks got two more power plays early in the middle period, including a two-man advantage for 1:07.

Winnipeg handled the puck often in the short-handed situation and got a standing ovation from the crowd at MTS Centre after the second penalty expired.

The Jets had their first power play midway through the scoreless second, but couldn’t add to their 1-0 lead.

Chicago outshot Winnipeg 20-13 after two periods.

Thorburn scored at 4:41 of the third period with a surprise shot. The veteran got the puck along the boards, spun around and shot at the net. The puck went high past Crawford for the 2-0 lead.

Laine scored after Dustin Byfuglien‘s wraparound attempt went off a stick and Laine got the puck and flipped it by Crawford at 8:32.

Eleven seconds later, Petan scored his first of the season when he missed shooting a loose puck but his second attempt beat Crawford.

NOTES: Winnipeg is now 6-0 when leading after two periods. … Chicago had scored at least two goals in each of its previous games this season. … Blackhawks D Duncan Keith played in his 850th career NHL game.


Blackhawks: At Calgary on Friday night in the second game of a seven-game trip through Canada and California.

Jets: At Philadelphia on Thursday night in the opener of a five-game trip.